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TANGIBLE IMMORTALITY.

Entre les dons, graces, et prérogatives, desquelles le souverain plasmateur Dieu tout Puissant, ha endoüairé et avoué l'humaine nature, à son commencement, celle me semble Singulière et excellente, par la quelle elle peult en estat mortel, acquérir espèce d' immortalité.-RABELAIS.

If there is a piece of rhetorical sleight-of-hand, a dialectic juggle, a logical sophism, more detestable and unworthy of a true, straightforward, Christian, and English disputant than all the rest, it is that practice, so common among contentious writers, of extracting just so much of an authority as serves their turn, and leaving unquoted some context which gives an evidently different meaning to the entire passage. It is a matter of sufficient reproach to persuasion, as an art, that, on principle, it aims only at taking a dirty advantage of defects in the popular intelligence, and making (as Aristophanes tells us) “the little words prevail over the big.” Eloquence is only a polite name for mystification, and oratory the mere cajoling an audience out of the use of their common sense; and if any one, reckoning upon the speeches of his favourite county member, the leading articles of his favourite newspaper, or the harangues of the favourite barrister on his circuit, should be tempted to dispute the truth of this proposition, we beg just to stop his mouth with one single question,“ Did ever he, or any one else, hear of eloquence being pressed into the service of a rigorous demonstration ?" No, good sir, there is not a single trope, metaphor, figure of speech, flourish—nay, not so much as a poor argumentum ad hominem, in all the books of Euclid. Sir Isaac Newton never convulsed his readers with laughter, by a reductio ad absurdum, altogether personal. Cocker never shook the counting-house to its centre, by an eloquent denunciation of the consequences which must follow from denying this veracious proposition—that twice two make four (though, Heaven knows, those consequences are often terrible enough to some of the parties concerned). Nay, from Demosthenes to the last chartist missionary, debating has ever been a mere attempt to pass false coin; and the effect has uniformly been in the ratio of the sum of humbug to be established. Pope (who, let the boys say what they will, was a poet, and, therefore, something of a judge in such matters) says, or sings, to the great lawyer and orator of his day,

“Plain truth, dear Murray, needs no flower of speech ;" and there never yet was’ a good reason that could not be stated in ten minutes.

The consequence is as plain as the nose on your face (if you have one), that falsehood alone is the raw material of oratory; which jumps at a single bound to our conclusion, that public speaking (and public writing too, when it presumes to be didactic), are a mere concio ud stultitiam, an instrument for calling into activity all the latent nonsense, prejudice, inconsequence, and fanaticism of an admiring public.

This being premised, we recur to our starting point; and affirm that if oratory is an attack on the rational faculty, the abuse must be very great which adds the surreptitious knavery of making it also a trap for

the memory. Troppo, as the Italians say, è troppo, which, for the nonce, may be translated, trope upon trope, is false heraldry. Mystic fication and positive lying, therefore, should not be mixed together. On such an occasion, a misquotation is a plain confession of defeat, for no man forges when his own draft is good with his banker. Besides, if the reader must pause at every turn to refer to authorities, the shortestwinded writer can never hope to be read through. To tamper, then, with the public habit of confidence in the good faith of a citation, is not merely a horrible crime, it is a fault; and worse cannot be said of it.

It is this conviction which compels us to begin by making a clear breast, in the matter of the quotation which stands at the head of our article, and to forewarn the reader that Rabelais had another meaning attached to the word immortality, than that which we chose to give to it on the present occasion. If any one wishes to know in what Rabelais' immortality consists, we must in all courtesy and civility reply to him, -Go look. That author is notoriously apt to “discuss more matters than are to be found in a grocer's shop,"* and we do not choose to commit ourselves with a prudish age, by answering indiscreet questions. Suffice it, therefore, that all and singular to whom these presents shall come, do know, understand, comprehend, and bear in mind, that the sort of immortality of which we propose to treat, is that customary and common immortality, which awaits great deeds in the grateful memory of mankind, the immortality to be won by falling in battle with a pirate in the Indian seas; by tumbling overboard in the service of your country: breaking your neck with a parachute; or taking the benefit of a copyright act for a spelling-book, or a “ Housewife's guide, and complete companion to the kitchen."

Now, as far as this immortality is concerned, no one in these enlightened days will deny that it is a gift, grace, and prerogative, singularly excellent,” and worthy of all admiration. Å good deal of what has hitherto been urged against it (on insufficient grounds, as we shall presently show), may be referred to two heads, the temporary and transient duration of the immortality, and the small use it is to a man when he is once dead and buried. And, as touching the first, it is usually objected that the world is not many thousand years old, yet that notwithstanding this, the date of many immortalities is already out. Where, we are asked, are the immortal poets, the historians of the preHelenic wars? Where the still older immortalities washed away in the great food ? not to speak of the preadamite worthies, of whom no remains have been found in the lias or the coal formations: their horns (however high they were once exalted) have no place in the Mantelian collection.

To this objection we might answer by denying the facts. Horace tells us expressly that the antehomeric heroes were not immortal; and that, too, precisely because there was no poet to sing them. As for the antediluvians, it is true that the book of Enoch has lately been brought to light, and may be tendered in evidence, as proof of the reality of those mighty men of old. But if, logically speaking, a man must have lived in order to write a book, we answer, why then hath he

* Di quelle cose che non ven de lo speziale."-Benv : Cellini.

are

in the present instance his reward; for, verily, there he is (as the Irishman says), “ alive and kicking;" to all lawful intents and purposes

of immortality as fresh and as well-preserved as the last forthcomer from Paternoster-row, or Albemarle-street, the most blooming young lion of the season : but on this point there two opinions: Again, with respect to those other members of the world' before the flood, Mr. Moore's “Loves of the Angels,” we shall merely observe (we mean nothing personal in the suggestion) that poets are only bound to veracity in their prose writings; and that such evidence (as the mathematician said of Milton's “Paradise Lost”), “proves nothing." Lastly, though to be ingenuous we must allow, that the negative testimony against our friends the Preadamites is strong, and though the geological society has not a single worthy of that family in a glass case, to tender on their behalf,—there are yet rumours afloat in the Silurian circles, that a certain Professor von Leichtglaubigkeit possesses a beautiful coprolite, of considerable promise for the future turning up of the desiderated curiosity. Still, until that promise is realized, and some preadamite Doctor Johnson is taken from his stony bed (a modern instance of an ancient saw-rian) to figure amongst the megatheria, and to oust us of our argument, we are at liberty to maintain, that, from the professor to his presumed inference, non valet consequentia.

We might then (we say) deny the facts, and apply to these early specimens of human greatness the universally admitted maxim de non apparentibus; but we do not think that ground quite safe, because, within our own immediate memories we have had proof that the dogma does not hold good. How many immortal authors, actors, painters, preachers, and what not, did we kuow in the merry days when we were young," who all have disappeared from before the public, many of them not living to see the end of their sublunary tenure, and ceasing to be immortal before they ceased to exist. Where is Tiddidol? Where Buckhorse? Where are the children of the Leadenhall Minerva ? There is not an echo to answer “where." Is not the memory, too, extinct of the immortal authors whose Dutch-leaf and red-leaded covers were put forth by the Newberry of the middle ages from the corner of St. Paul's-churchyard ? It is not long, indeed, since we ourselves heard a young gentleman in a side-box maintain, that the story of so recent an immortal as Jonathan Wilde was mythological. We must therefore admit, that as far as this age of transition goes, immortality is not always a freehold ; and that since churches have been built by Act of Parliament, even that claim to the memory of posterily is not worth a six months' purchase.

We shall therefore take up another position, and assert that there are immortals and immortals, just as there are Miltons and Blackmoresas there are guinea-a-liners and penny-a-liners—as there are John Kembles and—(please to put in your own name to fill up the sentence). Every one, we hold, gets in the long-run his proper share of renown; and the man whose immortality does not extend to a second edition, has no right to complain, if he disappears from the bookseller's catalogue, before the first is exhausted. We caterers for the periodical press hold our immortality from number to number ; and are obliged to pay a fine for renewing our lease, in the shape of a monthly article. Yet some of us have contrived to keep our immortality afloat, where men of greater pretensions sleep in the tomb of all the Capulets; and if this does not content us, we have nothing to do but to write a “ Paradise Lost," or a “Hamlet,” and take our places accordingly.

But if immortality derives its value from the length of its tenure, what becomes of the other objection which circumscribes its utility to the owner's life? If après moi le deluge be a sound philosophical maxim, and if even the finest estate in the country is of no use to him “ who died on Wednesday," the most ephemeral immortality is as good as the most vivacious: Empedocles is but on a par with the last fool who flung himself off the monument; and the most forgotten of the children of Swing, is as well off for renown as Eratostratus himself, who " played so foully for it." We may then set these objections against each other as mutually exclusive ; and, admitting neither, maintain our original proposition, that immortality is worth having, and the digito monstrari (in bust as in person), a most blissful condition.

There is, however, one particular instance to be excepted in making this estimate; we allude to that species of post obit immortality, of which not even the first instalment is paid till after the undertaker has had his wicked will of you. It is but a cold comfort for the wretch who is neglected, or (worse still) pelted by shallow and prejudiced contemporaries, to sun himself in the possible smiles of a more enlightened posterity. Such posthumous amendes honorables come as much too late, as a reprieve after hanging. They say, indeed, that it is a great comfort in patibulary matters to “ suffer innocently,” and die with a conviction that truth will out, though it be not till the day of judg. ment. Having never tried the experiment, we cannot say how this may be; but we fancy most people would prefer her majesty's free pardon at once, and taking their chance for the world's opinion.

Still, if we are not to argue from particulars to generals, and are summoned peremptorily to admit that immortality in posse is a valuable chattel, and that a preity-spoken epitaph is as pleasant in expectation as in enjoyment-if we are pinned down to allow that the hope of living renowned in story, is a sufficient motive for all sorts of despised labours, and unacknowledged privations, we must earnestly beg permission to say that we have no such kiss-cow tastes, and desire to leave to others all the benefits of an indulgence in them.

But if this personal objection may not stand in the place of an argument, and we are called upon to surrender at discretion, we have yet another stone in our sleeve. Though the hope of immortality, when we lie in cold obstruction, be a real sentiment, and a sentiment be something, and something be better than nothing, it is not the less true that this is not one of those cases, in which a good bill is as good as ready money. Posthumous fame will not be discounted by Mr. Colburn; nor is “six months after decease, I promise to be a Marlborough,” negotiable with Cox and Greenwood. In this respect, hope is notoriously“ a curtail dog," and un je tiens," vaut mieux que deur tu l'aura.'

We will, however, admit that in certain constitutions, this hope, all illusory as it is, affords an agreeable excitement; but still objectively speaking, a post mortem illustration of which the bearer, during life, was totally unconscious,

"as idly burns

As fire in antique Roman urns." The living hope in posterity, too, has this other advantage, that it is at every man's own disposition; being wholly independent of antecedent causation, and not incompatible with a total absence of meritorious qualifications.

If immortality has found favour in our sight, and if we do keenly relish the wide-spread celebrity, attached to the mysterious y, that represents our identity, it is wholly and solely on account of the divers immunities, privileges, prerogatives, emoluments, advantages, easements. and commodities, real and imaginary, which attach to the notoriety, of, belonging, and appertaining to the aforesaid Greek letter, during this our present state of sublunary self-sufficiency, and which may

be touched with the finger.

Men may profess what they please, but there is no going beyond. instinctive action; and for one man that really writes, acts, or thinks for posterity, there are millions who give their nights and days to tangible renown. The great, the immortal Claremont, whilom the self-estimated superior of the above-mentioned John Kemble, was content when the manager smiled approvingly on his efforts, and raised his salary by ten shillings per week. Nor would the author of Jim Crow, if he is wise, exchange the immortality of the two-shilling gallery, when discounted into pounds, shillings, and pence, against the future of the mighty Milton, with a bookseller's five pounds for his immortal poem. Let us not, however, be considered sordid. It is not alone by pecucuniary considerations that we are guided.

So far indeed from any such consideration being derived from such supererogatory celebrities, we question if they are not maintained like Richard's “ score of tailors” at some charge. Every man upon town can count up a tolerably long list of immortals, who have purchased immortality at the expense of their entire fortunes, and not unfrequently of their health and reputation into the bargain. We need do no more than allude to the succession crops of print-shop immortalities, who, in courting the distinction of the hour, had not the slightest thought of a quiddam honorarium, attached to its attainment. Neither can the gentlemen who break their necks in steeple-chases, who walk their thousand miles in a thousand hours, drive mail-coaches, or wear astounding mustaches for the sake of a little notoriety, be said to be sordid, unless, indeed, in the cases where a bubble bet is concerned. The immortals who have won their way to heaven (cælum ipsum petimus stultitia) over the broken heads of policemen, or the bodies of gin-poisoned hackney-coachmen, are equally guiltless of seeking the lucre of gain : we must do them that justice. Yet after all, among a shopkeeping nation like ours, it is not very consistent to cast so much blame upon an honest desire to turn a penny, or an attempt to speculate on immortality, by making the most of a temporary vogue : while millionaires get fame by the mere act of getting money, we do not see why a man may not lawfully get money by becoming famous. Very laudable, more particularly, is the forethought of the autobiographical immortals, who, having turned their illustrious lives to every other lawful purpose, wind up by reducing them into two octavo volumes of the most vendible character, and thus kill two birds with one stone :-rescuing for themselves

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